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>> narrator: in this episode of "american greed"... mark anderson holds millions of dollars' worth of . >> in this episode of "american greed," mark anderson owes millions of dollars in fine wine in trust for clients until greed gets the best of him. >> he didn't make a connection that ought some point there will be hell to pay, somebody will come back and say where is my -- >> the intensity of the fire when we got here was like no other. he was intent on destroying etching in this building. >> a $200 million fire the biggest loss of wine in u.s.
history. a beautiful indian-summer day in >> october 12th, 2005, a day in beautiful indian summer day in the bay area is tarnished by black smoke. pouring out of a warehouse invilin villejo. the fire chief douglas robertson is one of dozens of firefighters en route. >> we could not believe what we were seeing. it looked like a 747 had crashed. it's a big huge column of smoke. >> inside the warehouse, some of napa county wines are stacked floor to ceiling. there are more than 4 million bottles in all. now with temperatures inside the warehouse reaching 2,000 trees the vino turns to vapor. >> it would melt the shrink wrap
holding them. then they'd tip over. when one would tip over, it was like a dominoesque. you could hear the crashing glass slamming on the ground. >> when the smoke clear, conservative damage boggled the mind at least $200 million worth of wine is destroyed. >> wow. y you know, we had our entire net worth in that build going seven, eight years, put into a bottle and destroyed by fire. >> reporter: investigators quickly determined the fire was set deliberately. but who would want to ruin all this wine, and why? >> it had all the ingredients you want in a story. >> bill maher is a bay area journalist who writes about the fire. >> it had the money, which sexy. it had the wine industry, which
is bigger than life around here. and then it had mark. >> mark is mark anderson. he's well known in sausalito. a marin county town of house boats and mansions on the hill. anderson runs a ween storage facility he calls sausalito's cellars. >> i never saw him be anything but this mellow fat guy. you know, he was very easy going, just, he looked like kind of an old hippy. >> ron lucier lives in sausalito and is a wine collector. >> he owns a cult wine that can fetch more than $1,000. back in 1919, he has a growing collection but nowhere but a cramped closet to store it. that's when he first meets anderson. >> he was promoting himself as a
place, we have website, can you see what wine you have, it was a database. he would pick up the wine and deliver the wine, which was very convenient to me. >> now, that is a beautiful cork. >> keith ogden is another sausalito wine collector. >> it's going to be good. >> just like lucier in the early 2000s he has a collection. his choice california caber nay. >> i didn't start out saying i needed to have 2,000 bottles of wine. i started out having two case, i need a place to store it. >> a friend says mark anderson can be trusted with the fine wine collection. >> it was around the corner from my house, it was great, it was convenient. here was a guy that seemed to be about town, he was on the saucily that parks and recollection commission. at first blush it all looks
good. >> it looks good to a lot of wine collectors. by 2004, he is storing more than a million dollars of fine wine for scores of clients. but if retrospect, there are a few off notes in mark anderson's bouquet. there is the question of where he gets his money. his business isn't very lucrative. he lives in this humble apartment building. yet he spends lavishly on travel, food and wine. >> there is a restaurant in town sushi ran, mark had a plaque on the wall because he had eaten there 400 times one 84. which is astoungd. mainly because the place is so expensive. it's not a cheap place. >> i never ran into anybody that said mark had a tough time covering the tab. >> we went off to italy and a white truffle festival for a month and came back and talked about the amount he ate by the pound, everybody thought, oh,
mark must be digging into his family's money. >> but it's fought family money anderson is digging into. in addition to his lavish spending, there is another early warning sign. >> with park, you can never necessarily be sure that what he was telling awe strictly truthful. he had told people that he had managed the rock group iron butterfly. their best known sons, when i reached out, i was informed that nobody with the group had ever heard of mark. >> anderson claims to have had a hand in the invention of voicemail. >> had i been involved with the person that invented voicemail, i'd probably wear a tee-shirt that said that. mark dropped it in casual conversation. >> because with mark anderson, honesty is harder to come by than a fine 45 bottle of wine. >> he was pilfering it, fencing
mark anderson runs a storage facility for collectors of high end wine. client ron lucier describes ron anderson as an old hippy and admits his cellar wasn't the most organized. >> you went in, it was wine piled from floor to ceiling. >> he takes us to the first location. >> you'd basically come around the corner and it had no sign on it, even then, you'd come through and philadelphia you just kind of a narrow hallway and this big dark area number of wine crates. it was all mixed together. >> reporter: lucier has more than $50 million wine at sausalito cell ars. despite anderson's unorthodoxed methods, he trusts anderson, until things change in 2004. >> he was not responding to e-mails. >> keith ogden is another
client. >> he was not as available to talk about wine with me, my wine with me as he had been on in the first year i dealt with him. >> there are rumblings around town clients are asking for their wine and anderson can't produce it. >> i called mark, i said, mark, what's the story in the newspaper? is there any truth to it? >> he said, no, no, this guy had his wine shipped to me. it never got here, now he thinks i stole it t. shipment got lost, i don't know what happened. >> i'm started to get nervous, you hear another rumor, you turn back to it and say, okay, i want my wine delivered. >> several clients come forward, accusing anderson of stealing more than $1 million of their wine, selling it on the open market through auction houses and retailers and keeping the profits as if the wine were his own. >> and at that point my husband dan said, we got to get our wine out of there. i said, yeah, are you right, we
got to get our wine out of there. >> ron lucier, and other clients demand their wine back. they storm his office, not with pitch force but spread sheets, detailed list of every bought him held by anderson. >> we went bottle by bottle. we had his assistant hold the check list and pull things out of the cases. when we get done, there were a few cases of wine missing about $5,000 retail, at this point it had been stored a while, it was probably more than that. a lot was impossible to get. including all of my wine si sine qranon was the one that i started when i got into wine. >> he has moved it to a much larger warehouse in villejo, he, too, is missing his best bottles. >> when i told mark there were a lot of wines missing from inventory, oh, by the way, it 45d to be the high value wines. he had no responsz.
he basically was the dog ate my homework all over again. >> the sausalito police investigate the theft and identify 11 victims and $1.2 million of wine stolen. the motive, nothing but greerksd according to u.s. assistant attorney. >> i think mr. anderson got used to kind of the high life. he dined out quite a bit. when he dined out, he always liked to have a nice wine, which typically would be one from his own stock and by his own stock, inmean his customers' stock. i think he just couldn't afford that lifestyle on his own and he needed to embezzle the wine to pay for that. >> he says that anderson first sold clients' wine through two retailers in the san francisco area. when locals started to get hip to his scheme, he started fencing the wine through a chicago area wine auction house. he used two aliases, according
to him. >> he started selling wine at the chicago wine company in about 2004 and typically those were sold under the names peter martin or this throctmorton character. >> i was sure he was shop income his own place saying how is this much worth? can i successfully sell this without it being traced back to me? >> in september, 2005, anderson is charged in marin county with ten counts of embezzlement. the pressure mounts. civil lawsuits follow the criminal charges and as summer turns to fall, anderson is evicted from his new warehouse for non-payment of rent. >> right around the time that mr. anderson first was notified he would be evicted from the warehouse, he started to do internet search on topics such as arson, arson investigation. things of that nature. he was quoted by one of his employees as saying, what a
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bay area. >> on october 12th, 2005, it's one of the biggest stories in the bay area. >> as they're out there fighting this fire. >> a passive warehouse is in flames. >> you can hear it the noise of crashing glass, just slamming to the ground and the fire just burns and knocked the concrete off the ceiling, just making its own noise, it's own animal. it's just unbelievable. the amount of fire that was in this building. >> when the spoke clears, the damage is overwhelming. more than 90 napa valley wine makers, most small mom and pop operations had stored their wine here. it was their life blood. tear stock and trade. now it's all gone. a total loss at least $200 million. our bottles are messed because
of the intense heat. >> special agent brian parker with the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms leads their investigation into the fire's cause and origin. >> here would be burned up wine and burned up wood. out there in the middle would be burned up wine boxes and either still standing or collapsed pellets of ween. things that do not belong in a particular situation or a particular location are things that we flew in on. >> agent parker finds something unusual in the storage area rented by mark anderson the man under investigation in neighboring marin county for allegedly embezzleing wine. it's a propane torch, seen in this photo taken the day after the fire. act parker takes "american greed" into the atf's evidence vault. >> this is the protein torch. it was again located in the
storage area that mark anderson rnted inside wine central in close proximity to our area of origin. >> agent parker also recovers gasoline-soaked rags, boxes and a bucket found in anderson's storage space. he concludes the fire started if anderson's bay and the cause is arson. >> what we believe he brought in was a cardboard box. inside that box was a plastic bucket containing gasoline and at least two different types of rags. >> neither a bucket nor a torch are typically found in a wine cellar says assistant u.s. attorney. >> anderson's explanation was he was using that torch to take apart part of the metal cage that housed the ween. that was his explanation. we could see little reason why you needed that to accomplish what he wanted to do. >> as the forensic news
tightens, a circumstantial case against mark anderson is also growing. >> quite frankly, when we went out and did interviews of the surrounding interviews, we routinely ask a question, who do you think pay have had something. everybody came back with mark anderson. >> anderson had recently been evicted from the warehouse for non-payment of rent. the day of the fire, he was there to pack up his cellar. he was one of the only people in the warehouse that day and left about 20 minutes before the fire alarms went off. >> he also did something very suspicious after he left the building, from the road anderson called the warehouse manager. something he had never done before. >> and he expects pressed surprise -- expressed surprise when the office manager answered the phone, he said, oh, you're
still there the call ends awkwardly, with anderson saying he'll be back next wooic to pick up more of his wine. >> my thought is he was checking to see one if the fire was, in fact, still going and if anybody was still in the building. >> i think he was concerned that he had set this fire and he wanted to make sure that people were out of the warehouse but not concerned enough to say, hey, get out of there. >> exactly. >> even without a warning, everyone in the warehouse was able to escape unharmed. if anderson is the culprit, he believes he knows the motive. he is facing charges for allegedly embreezeling wine. >> what the fire does is gives him an out and to basically be able to say all of the wine you embezzled was presented and accounted for but it was all in the fire, now i can't prove it.
succession of defence attorneys. he pleads guilty, then withdraws the plea, saying he wants a trial. the delaysing a dpra rate is his victims. >> mark anderson still infuriates me t. old story of i'd like to be left in a room with him and a bat, yeah, he's a bad guy. and he, he will not ever atone for his sins. he's not that kind of guy. >> in a letter to "american greed," anderson says he's innocent. there are no actions which i ever did to warrant any charges whatsoever. regarding the alleged theft. he blames inventory problems and serious packing errors. victim ron lucier has a story about packing errors. while anderson is if jail awaiting trial, lucier and his husband decide to open a collection of silver oak wine they had stored with anderson and managed to get back. it's kept in a special wood
case. which they realized has been opened and glued shut. >> he literally tore the cover off with a crow bar. in there were six bottles. the box had been glued shut. >> that is clearly a deliberating a. it's not a misplacement. >> in february, 2012, anderson's attempt to withdraw his guilty plea is denied. he is sentenced on all 19 counts. after the his sentencing hearing, small wine makers from across napa valley have a chance to deliver statements about anderson's devastating impact on their lives. >> we tend to think of wine makers and winery owners as being rich guys that have huge operations. but that's not what napa and sonoma county are necessarily all about. >> ted hall of long meadow ranch says the fire kept him out of the market for more than two years. he tells the court the fire
nearly destroyed his family's business. while hall delivers a statement anderson lies on a table in the rear of the courtroom, citing back pain, he says he can't sit. >> when this was all done the judge asked anderson and his attorney whether he had anything to add and they said, no, your honor. everybody in the room just went gasped, right. then there was a second gasp when he announced the sentence. >> 27 years in prison. for the 16-year-old anderson is effectively a life sentence and a life without wine. because as journalist bill maher notes the wine list in prison has one choice, they call it pruno. >> it's what the inmates actually make in their cells. it's supposed to be quite a kick. i know it's not real gourmet.
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